NEW DELHI — Punjab Panthers stormed into the final of the Big Bout Indian Boxing League with an overwhelming 5-2 victory over a weakened NE Rhinos at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium Complex here Dec. 20.
They won four bouts in a row to dismiss the 2-1 advantage that the Rhinos got through Meenakshi and Francisco Veron after Sonia Lather drew first blood for Panthers.
Southpaw Naveen Kumar used his extra height, reach and body weight to haul Panthers back on track by securing a unanimous verdict against Ergashev Timur from Uzbekistan.
Abdulmalik Khalakov showed quick glovework in the 57kg clash with Mohammed Etash Khan and P.L. Prasad did likewise against Laldin Mawia in the 52kg battle — both were repeat winners over their respective rivals — to ensure that Panthers book the berth in the final against Gujarat Giants.
With personal pride to play for after the outcome of the match was known, the seasoned Manoj Kumar took time to warm up against the bustle of Muhammad Rahil in the 69kg bout. He conceded the first round to the lad from Akola but attacked consistently thereafter to secure a unanimous win.
Earlier, Panthers' Sonia Lather raised her game after trailing Pwilao Basumatary in the first round to win the women's 60kg bout.
Meenakshi then restored parity for Rhinos as she beat Darshana Doot in the women's 51kg bout. Argentina's Francisco Veron then put Rhinos ahead with a win against debutant Mohit Khatana in the 75kg bout.